Theodore Roosevelt National Park, ND: 8/8 – 8/11/2021

Welcome Sign

We finally made it to North Dakota. If you have never been here, I highly suggest that you put it on your list of places to visit. The locals here are very friendly, and Historic Medora (North Dakota’s most popular attraction) is a cute, little wild west town with a gateway into the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

We found a site at Buffalo Gap Campground. It is located about 15 miles west of Medora off Route 94.

There were no hookups, but it still cost $20 per night. We immediately purchased tickets online for the popular Medora Musical, known as the rootin’-tootinest, boot-scootinest show in all the Midwest. Seriously, that is how it is promoted in their brochures. Our tickets were for the 5:30 p.m. show on Sunday.

The next day, we got up early and walked around the town of Medora.

A beautiful display

As the morning wore on, it became uncomfortably hot with temperatures in the high 90’s. I realized that there was NO WAY that I could sit in an amphitheater later today in this extreme heat. We canceled the show and rescheduled for Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. We also purchased the Pitchfork Steak Fondue dinner that began at 6:00 p.m. at the same location. When it got unbearably hot, we returned to our camp. There was no electric for A/C or fans, and the outside air was lacking wind. Scott filled a small tub up with cold water and we dipped our shirts and bandanas into the water and then put them back on our bodies. I also put my feet into the tub of water. We sat there lifeless, counting the minutes for the sun to go down. By 6 p.m., we drove into town and enjoyed dinner at Theordore’s, an indoor “air conditioned” restaurant located in the same name hotel.

All cooled off – inside and out

The following day, we headed to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

We entered the park via the South Unit Visitor Center in Medora. Scenic Loop Drive is 36-mile paved drive with pullouts of overlooks and exhibit panels. Along the way, we were lucky enough to see wild horses and bison enjoying their natural habitat. We stopped and parked at Peaceful Valley Ranch Trailhead, where you could choose between two hikes: Big Plateau Loop (5.4 miles/Difficult) or Lone Tree Loop (9.1 miles/Difficult).

I just love the ”Warning” sign

We hiked 7.2 miles on Big Plateau Loop, which is actually only 5.4 miles long. How can that be? Well, we began the “short” 5.4 mile hike without any water or backpacks. It was a warm, beautiful day, after all, and we didn’t feel the need to carry any gear. (Bad choice!) We started the loop in a clockwise direction with cameras and good attitudes.

Start of the hike

Within the first two miles, we passed Prairie dog towns, a beautiful wild horse, and a hunting red-tail hawk.

More than 3.5 miles in, we passed a tour-guided group that had started their hike in a counter-clockwise direction. They told us that up at the top of the plateau there were hundreds of bison that they had to make their way through. Scott and I continued up the draw for another .2 miles until we met up with a family of four who showed us pictures of them walking within ten feet of these large creatures. We took some photos while we contemplated our next move.

This guy was too close for comfort and the rest of his herd were making their way to our plateau. We turned around to head out the way we had come. There was no way either one of us wanted to walk within ten feet of a bison, let alone a hundred of them. After a few minutes, we turned around to see the herd was where we had just stood. OMG!

So, that would explain how a 5.4 mile loop turned into a 7.2 mile hike.

On Tuesday, Scott took a 10-mile solo bike ride on part of the Maah Daah Hey Trail.

That evening, we enjoyed a delicious Pitchfork Steak Fondue dinner at the Tjaden Terrace followed by the “Medora Wild West Musical” at the adjacent Amphitheater.

Looking down at the Amphitheatre

You could either walk or take an escalator down to the Amphitheatre. It was a beautiful night and an entertaining show.

Our view from the second row

Next stop, Minnesota.

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